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Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger steps down from Champagne Taittinger

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger has stepped down as president of Taittinger Champagne, effective 31 December 2019.The new president is his daughter, Vitalie Taittinger.

“I have dedicated more than 45 years of my life to Champagne and the House that bears our name and history,” said Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger in a statement. “These last 13 years have undoubtedly been the most effervescent, the most exhilarating of my career at Taittinger.” He added that he has never seen Taittinger so true to the values he upholds. “I can hand over the reins, secure in a sense of accomplishment.”

Taittinger remains one of the few top Champagne Houses that is still in family hands. In 2005, the Taittinger hotel and luxury goods group was bought by American private equity fund, Starwood Capital Group. They put the Champagne House on the market in 2006 and bidding quickly become fierce, with India’s United Breweries putting in a big. According to a Wine Spectator report of the time, members of the Taittinger family were able to buy back the Champagne house, in conjunction with Credit Agricole. Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, who was deputy managing director at the time, played a key role in the negotiations.

Now based in Reims, Taittinger was founded in 1734 by Jacques Fourneaux. In the middle of the twentieth century, cellars were established in the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise which was built in the 13th century on Roman chalk pits. 

Vitalie Taittinger has worked for the House for 12 years and holds the role of director of marketing and communications. She will be supported by general manager Damien le Sueur and her brother Clovis Taittinger, who will be promoted to general manager.

Damien le Sueur will now ensure the smooth coordination of all the moving parts of the business, including vineyards, supplies, production and business. Clovis Taittinger will take charge of sales and marketing.

 

 

NEW CELLAR MASTER AT TAITTINGER

Alexandre Ponnavoy has officially taken over as the new chef de cave at Champagne Taittinger, taking over from the longstanding Loïc Dupont.

Dupont has been making wine at Taittinger for 30 years.

Originally from Dijon, Ponnavoy did a maters in agronomy at the Institut Jules Guyot (University of Burgundy) and ENITA (National School of Engineering in Agricultural Techniques).

Afterwards he left for Champagne where he obtained a masters in oenology in Reims.

He joined Louis Roederer where he also spent some time at Roederer Estate in California before joining the Station Oenotechnique de Champagne as an oenology consultant in 2007.

In that role he provided advice and support to more than 150 properties, dealers and partners in Champagne and abroad.

His new role at the house was announced last week at the launch of the latest release of the 2007 vintage of Taittinger’s prestige cuvée Comtes de Champagne which is now being offered by merchants.

As Ponnavoy was only joining the SOEC in 2007, the wine is obviously the work of his forebear Dupont. The 2007 Comtes is just the 35th vintage produced since 1952 and as usual it is a blanc de blancs made exclusively from Chardonnay grown in the grand cru sites of Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger in the Côtes des Blancs.

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger commented: “This great 2007 vintage lives up to all expectations as soon as you open the bottle. It is the second vintage made during my presidency, when I took over with my son Clovis and daughter Vitalie. It is truly the soul of Taittinger.”

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History

Taittinger Since the very first days of prestige cuvées, two wines – Cristal and Dom Pérignon – have been left unchallenged in both prestige and pricing.

But behind them a number of prestige cuvées are each fighting for a place in the limelight. Despite the fact that the prestige cuvée of Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, has a long standing in history and a perfect track record of quality, neither the wine’s reputation nor price has ever quite risen to the level they could. The new management of Taittinger is now determined to claim the crown as the finest Blanc de Blancs prestige cuvée. The Taittinger House changed hands in 2005, when the American investing company Starwood Capital acquired the family-run company. Starwood purchased the entire Société du Louvre holding company of which Champagne Taittinger was a part. As Starwood’s main target was the hotel business they decided to put Taittinger for sale soon afterwards.

 

There were numerous bidders for the company, from Indian investors to rival Champagne Houses, who all had their eyes on Taittinger’s vineyard holdings. The deal was eventually done with a member of the Taittinger family, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, grandson of the original founder. He was able to make the purchase with the help of Crédit Agricole bank at the purchase price of 660 million euros. The family reacquisition in 2006 was a great accomplishment and a brave act from Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger and his descendants. Taittinger has gone back to being a core family company with both of Pierre-Emmanuel’s children, Clovis and Vitalid, working for the House. In these times of consolidation it is a refreshing change. The purchase has brought about winds of change.

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Vineyards

 A facelift of the prestige cuvée Comtes de Champagne was put on the list of things to-do.

Perfect atmosphere Great champagnes are traditionally named after people. Taittinger makes no exception, having chosen to honour the history of the house and the region by naming their prestige cuvée Comtes de Champagne (Counts of Champagne). To get to the bottom of the story of this great wine, I descend into the atmospheric underground cellars of St-Niçaise where Comtes de Champagne is born. Entering the oldest part, the St-Niçaise Abbey crypt, the ambiance of its 1,000 year history forces a complete silence on me. I gaze at the innumerable texts and pictures from different periods of time engraved on the soft, white chalk walls.

 

Surrounding me there rests millions of bottles of Comtes de Champagne, fermenting and maturing in perfect silence, temperature and humidity. Taittinger Cellar Master Loïc Dupont breaks the silence: “We only touch these bottles a dozen times during the years they spend in the cellar. But we talk to them every day…” The St-Niçaise abbey was destroyed in the French Revolution and the required funds for its reconstruction were never found. The Taittingers bought the ruins and built the cellars into these monumental historical surroundings. Today, the underground cellar network at St-Niçaise is used entirely for maturing Comtes de Champagne.

 

The rest of the production takes place at the modern winery facilities at Rue de la Justice. The abbey ruins and the interlinked Gallo-Roman cellar network make perfect surroundings for this sublime champagne to develop. After all, the house and the Counts of Champagne go far back in Champagne history. Great purchases Taittinger is the third oldest Champagne House. The Taittinger name, however, does not have an equally long standing in the area. The Champagne House, founded in 1732, was originally called Fourneaux. It was Pierre Taittinger who bought the estate in 1932 renaming it Taittinger. Simultaneously Pierre Taittinger, having worked as a champagne merchant earlier, acquired large plots of land in the best Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages. One of his purchases was also the historical property of Château de la Marquetterie.

 

The destructions of the First World War and the following depression enabled the purchases. He continued to take advantage of the financially challenging times after the Second World War and enlarged his empire even further. It is thanks to his wise purchases at the time that Taittinger owns today over half of the vineyards for its grape needs. The vineyard ownership has become an asset of the privileged as the prices for both the land and grapes have rocketed. Pierre Taittinger’s venture was a success from its early days. Soon, the company was moved from Mailly to the centre of Reims to an 11th century building that once belonged to the Counts of Champagne. Comtes de Champagne The origins of the Counts of Champagne lie in the 7th century feudal society. Prior to the 11th century, the Counts of Troyes had ruled but during the time of Thibault II the power shifted to the Champagne County, whose Count had his residence in Reims. Thibault II was a mighty man ranking only second to the king. However, it was during the times of Thibault IV that Champagne really flourished.

 

He arranged the famous 49-day festivities in the area that brought prosperity to the region. The reputation and export of the region’s products rose to new heights. The story of the Champagne Counts came to an end finally when the crown and the Champagne County were united as Louis X rose to power. Taittinger, owning the historical Comtes de Champagne residence named their prestige cuvée to honour this history. Birth of the Cuvée It was Pierre Taittinger who saw the great potential in Chardonnay as being the predominant grape variety in the blend. Following his instinct, he created the light and elegant Chardonnay-dominant floral and perfumed style as Taittinger’s trademark. Consistent with this vision, the Taittinger prestige cuvée was to be a 100 per cent Chardonnay wine from the best Côte de Blancs villages.

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Winemaking

Comtes de Champagne’s inaugural vintage was 1952 and it is reputed to be the first prestige cuvée Blanc de Blancs.

'With its charm and success it was able to boost the popularity of the entire Blanc de Blancs style. Cellar Master Loïc Dupont comments on the construction of the wine: “The wine comes almost 100 per cent from the Grand Cru villages of Côte des Blancs. The emphasis is on Avize and Mesnil fruit. It is a peculiar prestige cuvée in the sense that only half of the raw material for the 200,000 bottles we produce originates in our own vineyards. The rest are sourced via long term contracts.” The wine is produced in a modern reductionist style by fermenting the must at a controlled temperature of 16 degrees celsius.

 

Since the 1989 vintage, a fraction of the wine has been aged in fairly new oak barrels for four months. Loïc Dupont explains: “We do not wish to add any oak flavour to the wine but oak maturation is beneficial for the wine’s structure. Also the toasty aroma of the Chardonnay we accomplish at youth is most welcome. 20 per cent of the oak barrels are new, 20 per cent one year old, 20 per cent two years old and so on. Amongst other French oaks, we use also local Champagne oak. We are constantly developing the winemaking with trials of different oaks and toasts as well as yeast lees stirring (battonage).”

 

After bottling, the wines are transported to the Gallo-Roman chalk cellars of Saint-Niçaise to ferment and mature. The House has a policy to keep the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs on the lees for close to 10 years, which makes it deliciously wide and rich when it is brought onto the market. The wine is dosed with 10 g/l residual sugar at disgorgement and left to settle for six months before its launch. To-do list Professionals and champagne lovers have always appreciated Comtes de Champagne for what it is and the wine’s quality has been high throughout its existence. Why is it not more famous or expensive then? There are numerous reasons for this. Firstly, there is the quantity. Far less of Comtes is produced than its larger rivals. The status of Cristal or Dom Pérignon, therefore, is best left unchallenged, as there is simply not enough Comtes de Champagne around to cater for everybody. Instead, Taittinger should take a strong move to conquer the premium position of Blanc de Blancs category, now shared fairly evenly between Comtes, Salon and Dom Ruinart

 

A new page was turned in the Taittinger book after the family bought back the House in 2006.

The fresh management, marketing and sales teams are dusting off old habits and listening to the markets in order to lift Taittinger’s image up to the level of its wine quality. The first product the new team wanted to give a facelift to was the Comtes. Having always been appreciated as a wine, Comtes has so far not been marketed or perceived as a luxury good. Now, the packaging and advertising are being reworked with the help of Marketing Manager Dominique Garréta, who brought with her branding expertise from the cosmetics industry. As a part of the brand construction work, the company decided to make significant price increases at the beginning of 2008.

 

This took the market by surprise but the timing was in accordance with most Houses’ price increases. The increases were done to tame the accelerating demand for Comtes and to position its image at the right level compared to the competition. In contrast to its competition, Taittinger has not launched a line of older vintages or late-disgorged champagnes. Due to the old management’s views on champagne’s limited ageing capacity, there are no great reserves of older vintages.

 

The new management has also turned this habit around by keeping back larger stock of current vintages. All in all, it has been fascinating to see the change of course at this traditional Champagne House. I first visited it in 2005 and a lot has changed since then. The early signs are more than encouraging as the family seems to be nurturing the brand wholeheartedly. Their task is made easier by the existing top quality of the wines. It is a wonderful asset when a superb product is intact and one needs only to polish the image. 

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17 different wines with 134 vintages

1 official sellers in 1 countries

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Markus Del Monego MW/BWW2022-Best Germany Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  5 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  37 wines 

A journey to Champagne brought some interesting insights to famous houses and new discoveries with excellent tastings and some amazing wines.

2m 23d ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  5 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  35 wines 

After a loooong wait of two long, we got finally the world's best champagne fair – Grand Champagne – organised. Superb bunch of chefs de cave, great selection of champagnes and bubbly atmosphere, what else do you need! And the best champagne for me was........Charles Heidsieck La Collection de Crayères 1981 in Jeroboam (98p)! 

3m 1d ago

 Taittinger  has updated producer and wine information

5m 3d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  16 wines 

Chateau Musar 1998 / This is a beautifully mature wine that is delicious to enjoy now. The wine has elegance, persistence and ethereal flavours of dried autumn leaves, black truffles and pu'er tea. Lovely, silky texture, supple palate and a long finish. An impressive wine that rivals the best of Bordeaux

6m 4d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW/BWW2022-Best Germany Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  3 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  34 wines 

A wonderful tasting of classic brut Champagne, elegant rosé and excellent prestige cuvées was one of the highlights in January.              

6m 8d ago

 Lu Yang / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  8 wines 

Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires Blanc de Blancs 2004 / Light yellow-gold. Pungent aromas of lemon, orange and pear, complicated by sexy floral and gingerbread qualities and hints of toasty lees and honey. Lively on entry, with lively citrus flavors, then deeper and smokier in the middle palate, offering juicy orchard fruit and honeyed nut flavors and good mineral snap. The finish lingers with suave floral and spice notes and excellent persistence

7m 1d ago

 Richard Juhlin , Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  2 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  31 wines 

Thiénot x Penfolds Blanc de Blancs 2012 / The dosage stored in Penfold's Australian barrels. In all three wines where Peter Gago had a hand and his barrels in the production, you have an added and impressive power and butterscotch oakiness. The wines are simply larger and more expressive than in the steel tank-fermented prestige champagnes from Thiénot. The very best in the trio with a Comtes de Champagne-like opulence and fullness. Even more roasted and coffee-scented than the model and at least as smooth texture. Not quite the same depth and elegance, but it is a fantastic champagne in any case.

7m 29d ago

 Taittinger  has updated producer and wine information

9m 8d ago

 Lu Yang / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  2 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  12 wines 

Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2010 / A beautiful Champagne, featuring fragrant notes of toasted brioche and grilled nut that are more subtle on the palate, transitioning to a rich underpinning layered with a pure chime of tangerine and accents of candied ginger, toasted saffron and lime blossom. This bundles a lot of concentrated flavor into a lithe frame. The fine mousse caresses the palate through to the lasting finish. Perhaps the best one from the 2010 vintage!

9m 8d ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  30 wines 

100 Best Champagnes 2022 tasting – day 1 behind. Very solid line-up with a handful of super gems! Cuvée R. Lalou 2006 (96p) is still hard to beat although Comtes de Champagne 2011 (95p) did well despite the challenging vintage. Armand de Brignac Brut Rosé (93p) was the best rosé ACE I recall having. For roses, Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV (94p) is superb find for the value!

11m 10d ago

 Essi Avellan MW , Wine Writer (Finland)  tasted  4 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  56 wines 

The Champagne Magazine's "The 100-Best Champagnes 2022" tasting - Day 2.

11m 10d ago

 Hiroshi Ishida, Sommelier (Japan)  tasted  2 wines  from  Taittinger . In a tasting of  9 wines 

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2008 / A textbook blanc de blancs in a relatively opulent style, with ample grilled nut, brioche and spice character alongside classic flavors of poached apricot, kumquat, oyster shell and lemon blossom. This rich profile is well-defined by racy acidity, sleek and well-cut, driving the long, lacy finish. A hero.

1y 20d ago

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